After I finished at the War Remnants Museum I fancied a walk to clear my head and so made my way back to the Ben Tahnh market area (the centre of District 1) via the Presidential palace. The palace is certainly impressive from the outside but there is not too much to see once inside although I did like standing on the balcony as it made me feel like a member of the Royal family! From here I walked back to Le Loi street and saw a sign for “L’usine” café so thought I would stop in for a coffee and make use of their free wifi in order to see when my brother was due to finish work so I could arrange to meet up with him. L’usine has a boutique (a pricy one at that!) on the ground floor and a café bakery upstairs which was buzzing when I arrived there at around 4pm. They offer homemade cakes, sandwiches and snacks as well as a nice range of tea, coffees, juices and alcohol drinks. In the end I decided I would have a beer and one of the crudité boards to nibble on as I had not really eaten lunch and was beginning to get a bit hungry.
The crudité board was perfect – veggie sticks, little bread croutes and a couple of dips (one was beetroot and the other was a bit like taramasalata) and I enjoyed the local Bia Saigon too. I actually came back on my last day to kill some time in the aircon before I caught my flight home as well. On this occasion I had a Vietnamese coffee and a salted caramel cupcake both of which were equally good.
The Vietnamese coffee has a great, almost treacle like taste to it and I bought some freshly ground coffee in the market to bring back home with me too. On neither occasion did my bill top $10 sgd or 300 baht which whilst relatively pricy for HCMC is still a bargain in my book.
L’Usine is one of those places that could fit in anywhere and the crowd was very much a mix of expats and locals, there didn’t seem to be so many tourists as I suppose they want amore authentically local experience when in HCMC however I enjoyed it very much and would highly recommend it.
I visited the branch on Le Loi however there is another, larger café on Dong Khoi st as well